Reports and Studies
2015 Minnesota Livestock Industry Study
This Livestock Industry Study is the result of action taken by the 2015 Minnesota Legislature and signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton. The Minnesota Commissioner of Agriculture was charged to find the causes of relative growth or decline in the number of poultry and livestock in Minnesota and other Midwestern States. The report outlines 10 recommendations to grow Minnesota’s agricultural livestock sector:
- Encourage processors to modernize and/or expand
- Stimulate investments in the dairy industry to increase capacity and demand
- Fund programs to aid young and beginning farmers
- Fund education for tomorrow’s agricultural professionals and large animal veterinarians
- Find ways to provide “working lands” that achieve goals for both wildlife habitat and livestock feedstuffs and grazing
- Support fair and reasonable ordinances that recognize property rights while allowing both livestock production and environmental protection
- Continue funding of MN Dept. of Ag. Programs that provide financial and technical benefits to producers and processors
- Strengthen permitting process assistance to mimic successful programs in five other states.
For the full report, see: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/news/~/media/Files/news/govrelations/legrpt-lvstk2015.pdf
A Path Forward – Stronger Together
Global dairy consumption is increasing – there’s no doubt about that. And the folks that know about it, the USDA, is forecasting a 15 percent increase in U.S. milk production by 2022 in order to feed the folks who are eating and drinking more dairy. Those of us here in the Midwest have a huge stake in that prediction, especially dairy farm families. That’s why Midwest Dairy Association initiated A Path Forward, which looks at whether dairy farmers in the region can be the ones who produce the milk for that growing demand. It’s a huge number to digest (literally), but it means something to each farmer, processor, state and region involved in dairy. It’s not “If we build it, they will come,” but “They’re coming, so can we be the ones to build it.”
Milk Producer Experiences and Perspectives about Environmental Regulations in Minnesota
Prepared for Minnesota Milk Producers Association by Warren Formo, Minnesota Agricultural Water Resource Center
Ongoing environmental concerns, particularly related to water quality, present numerous challenges for Minnesota dairy producers ranging from increasing regulation and reporting requirements to negative media attention. Regulatory developments in the past have resulted in varying levels of permit requirements and manure management changes. Current agency activities, such as the development of the Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program and new nutrient standards for surface waters, create an atmosphere of uncertainty for Minnesota dairy producers.
Minnesota Milk Producers Association (MMPA) commissioned this report in order to develop a greater understanding of the experiences and perspectives dairy farmers have toward environmental regulations in Minnesota. Farmer input was gathered through a series of focus groups held in three diverse regions across the state, coupled with telephone interviews conducted to insure broad geographic coverage. Additional interviews gathered input from consultants, who have become an integral part of regulatory interaction on many farms. This report provides a snapshot at this point in time of the regulations shaping Minnesota dairy farms today and influencing their plans for the future.
It is important and noteworthy that literally every dairy producer providing feedback expressed discontent with the current regulatory environment. Every participant offered at least one comment about regulatory overreach, inconsistent application of rules or inadequately trained agency staff.
It is equally important to note that most participants expressed a strong environmental ethic, a desire to do the right things in order to preserve their farm business for future generations and to maintain goodwill in their communities.
The action items that emerged from these comments can be summarized as follows:
- Implement a training program specifically for agency staff members with whom dairy farmers interact.
- Expand basic and dairy-specific agricultural educational outreach to legislators and other rule makers.
- Expand educational outreach to dairy farmers to raise awareness of environmental issues.
- Expand efforts to help dairy farmers engage in stewardship messaging.
- Create an emergency response tool kit for dairy farmers.
It is certainly true that MMPA Directors are themselves very much aware of the issues discussed here, both from their own experience and from their interactions with other farmers. MMPA staff members also have perspectives on environmental concerns based on their interactions with dairy farmers. Thus it is likely that most of the information gleaned from these conversations will reaffirm what was previously known, providing support for MMPA policy positions and programs that are already in place. But the candid input from this diverse group should also stimulate ideas for new steps MMPA might consider as it continues to serve the men and women who comprise Minnesota’s dairy industry.